Study: Political posts on social media change some minds

WASHINGTON — In the days before and after the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, many Facebook and Twitter users claim to be taking a break from social media noise, in large part because their minds are made up.

Or are they still open to convincing?

A new study by the Pew Research Center shows a minority of social media users actually do change their views on candidates and political issues because of what they see and hear online.

“Most social media users, around 8 in 10, have never changed their views about an issue or candidate because of social media,” said Monica Anderson, research assistant at Pew. The center’s website describes the research group as a “nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world.”

“A minority, about 20 percent, say that they have changed their views about an issue. And 17 percent say they have done that about a political candidate,” Anderson said.

Although there is little difference based on gender, race or income, Anderson said supporters of one political party reported in polls that they would rethink their views considerably more than supporters of the other major party.

“About a quarter of liberal Democrats have changed their minds about an issue. But when we look at conservative or moderate Republicans, that’s only about 13 percent,” said Anderson.

Anderson said when social media users acknowledged changing their minds, in most cases they thought less of a candidate or political issue.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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